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How people are using Harris CapRock Advanced VSAT

Friday, December 4, 2015

The 'Advanced VSAT' satellite communications solution from Harris CapRock allows satellite bandwidth to be assigned on demand, rather than being assigned in advance under long term contract. Here's how it is being used.

In early 2014, Harris CapRock announced the launch of its 'Advanced VSAT' technology, which would enable the amount of bandwidth to be changed with a few hours' notice.

Consider an oil and gas company which has purchased VSAT bandwidth the way it is normally purchased - with an always on, one megabit per second of data communication available for the offshore platform, to be divided between all of its users.

Using 'Advanced VSAT', it could request bandwidth be increased to 3.5 mbps for a few hours, for example if it is drilling a critical part of the well and wants to send higher resolution data to shore, or if a video conference is planned.

The changes can be made remotely, and there is no interruption to the satcom connection while the work is done.

The service is available for all major oil and gas offshore producing regions, says Andy Lucas, chief technology officer of Harris CapRock.

Previously, the only way to increase your bandwidth was often to send an engineer offshore with spare parts for the satellite communications equipment. This would often involve putting the satellite communications offline while the work was done.

Typically the company IT department or CIO will make the final request (to the satellite communications provider) to increase bandwidth, he says, but following instructions from the asset manager.

With Advanced VSAT, tThe IT department can know exactly what the bandwidth increase will cost, before requesting it, he says.

Thinking differently

People usually purchase satellite communications by trying to find the most bandwidth they can buy for the budget they have been assigned, rather than thinking about what capabilitiesy they need, Mr. Lucas says.

But now, if customers can buy bandwidth 'on the fly,', they can think differently, he says.

For example, if a customerthey hasve a drilling problem downhole, they might think, how about sending a large (High Definition) video of the downhole problem to an onshore expert, so they can see what is happening. The satcom bandwidth couldan be increased to accommodate it.

'Customers call us and say, 'Wwe need the following bandwidth immediately because we have an operational situation on the rig, and we need more eyes on the problem,'' Mr. Lucas says. 'We've got examples of where we can get additional bandwidth to them within an hour.'

Some companies are considering increasing bandwidth in the evening, when crew are more likely to want to access the internet. 'We've had serious conversations about that with customers,' he says.

Better service

The Aadvanced VSAT service also has less jitter (shake) which makes voice calls are easier, Mr. Lucas says.

It also has a lower latency (delay) between sending the data and receiving it.

You can't reduce the latency caused by sending the data to the satellite and back, but you can reduce the latency caused by the hardware, Mr. Lucas says.

Lower latency makes voice phone calls more fluid, because you don't have to wait to hear what the other person says.

Lower latency is also more useful for software applications running over the communications link. Many offshore platforms run software which has been originally designed for use on land networks, and so do not expect any delay, Mr. Lucas says.



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» Harris Caprock
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